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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sharon Jones at Union Transfer, Northern Arms at Johnny Brenda’s, Red Fang at The Trocadero and more

via facebook.com/sharonjonesandthedapkings

On their latest release, Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings showcases the dynamic frontwoman’s high energy and resolve more than ever. The band returns to Philadelphia tonight to play Union Transfer and for her fans, Jones’s return to the stage is a triumph, given that the singer was diagnosed with cancer just last year. Regardless, the new album is full of great tracks like “Retreat!” and “Stranger to My Happiness.” Join Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and James Hunter for a night of classic soul. Get more info here at the XPN Concert Calender.

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The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Wild Belle, Petula Clark and Neighborhood Choir)

Eels | Photo by Michael Bucher
Eels | Photo by Michael Bucher

Check out photos and videos of Eels‘ knock-out appearance at World Cafe Live [link]

Local acoustic musician Kyle Swartzwelder recorded a stirring session for Folkadelphia [link]

Download “Joy To You Baby” from Josh Ritter‘s new LP The Beast in its Tracks, which is also XPN’s Featured Album of the Week [link]

XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of Week welcomes the return of Petula Clark with “Cut Copy Me” off of her new album Lost in You [link]

The Lawsuits recorded a rocking, eclectic Key Studio Session this week [link]

Guest VJ Nikki Volpicelli shares Philadelphia Area Music Showcase‘s line-up of local acts for this month’s Tuesday Tune-Out series at PhilaMOCA [link]

Neighboorhood Choir‘s Bennett Daniels talks roadtrips, recording and roughing it in an interview with Brian Wilensky [link]

The Key premiered Wild Belle‘s instantly captivating and mystical debut album Isles [link]

Peter Murphy will perform the music of Bauhaus at The Trocadero on May 9th [link]

Watch a video of Norwegian Arms performing “Wolf Like a Stray Dog” at Brighton Sound Studios; they play an all-ages show at PhilaMOCA tomorrow [link]

Preeminent Philly soul group The Delfonics are put in the spotlight once again with Adrien Younge Presents The Delfonics; stream the new collaborative album via NPR [link]

Steve Earle and the Dukes announce a May 3rd show at Phoenixville’s Colonial Theatre [link]

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The unstoppable Eels play World Cafe Live with clowns, track suits (photos, review, video, setlist)

Saturday night’s sold out Eels show at World Cafe Live had plenty of oddball moments, from the sad clown singing tragic songs, to Mark Oliver Everett and the rest of his track-suited gang schticking it up for a solid hour and a half set.

The night started with a clown named Puddles meandering through the crowd with a old suitcase and lit lantern. He seemed to be looking for someone but never found them. He suddenly climbed on the stage from the crowd, placed his suitcase down and just stood at the microphone looking nervous. Then the house music stopped, the lights went down and Puddles Pity Party’s performance began. His voice was a strong while he sang sad tunes to minimal recordings about losing his past loves and being alone. Suddenly a guy in a dress wearing a monkey mask came out and sat at the front of the stage, eating bananas and making lewd gestures with them while throwing the peels into the crowd. Puddles never acknowledged the monkey-person though. All puddles did beside sing was dry his eyes with tissues during “Lonely Guy,” before leaving the stage the same way he came. He even did a crushing rendition of Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.” Really, it was hard to not feel sorry for the him – the performance felt real. Puddles Pity Party wasn’t gimmicky, it was truly moving.

New Jersey’s Nicole Atkins played next, but without her band. Her soulful, solo-guitar set was outstanding and seemed to make the crowd melt a little more with every song. “Cry Cry Cry,” from 2011’s Mondo Amore was a stand-out. She shared the new and unreleased “Red Ropes,” and wore her heart on shoulder as she sang surprisingly heartbroken songs.

Before Eels took the stage, the crowd was abuzz, knowing they were about to get a couple laughs and see one of the most tongue-in-cheek rock shows around. As the band walked out, they were greeted immediately by people yelling “The Chet!” – the guitarist in the band, and a fan favorite. They started their set just as their latest record, Wonderful, Glorious does, with “Bombs Away.” Then lead singer Everett, or E, hugged a band member. Then they played the next song from that record, “Kinda Fuzzy,” and E hugged another band member. He’d repeat this for the first four songs; later all five joined in a group hug. Continue reading →

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A brief and baffling history of opening acts for Eels (playing a sold-out World Cafe Live tomorrow)

John Pizzi the Ventriloquist opening for Eels at World Cafe Live in 2010 | Photo by Eric Schuman
John Pizzi and Andy opening for Eels at World Cafe Live in 2010 | Photo by Eric Schuman

Eels fans are somewhat conditioned to expect the unexpected. The long-running project of songwriter Mark Oliver Everett will release raging rock & roll albums one minute, lush and autobiographical double LPs the next. They toured as a four-piece rock band in the “Alternative Rock” 90s, then performed with mini orchestras and strings. And, ever the absurdist, Everett has a penchant for opening acts that are untraditional, outlandish and just downright bizarre. Here’s a rundown of openers he’s brought through town.

MC Honky; Theater of Living Arts; August 2, 2003

This hulking, balding, elderly funk DJ in a trenchcoat and porkpie hat spent an hour-long set on the 2003 “Tour of Duty” (in support of Eels Shootenanny! LP) puffing a pipe and spinning dope records with disco-danceable beats. The widely accepted theory is that it was simply the man called E in a fat-suit; MC Honky’s lone album, I Am the Messiah, was produced by Everett, and little evidence exists to suggest that Honky is an actual person otherwise. Continue reading →

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Listen to Wonderful, Glorious, the new album from Eels (playing World Cafe Live on 3/2)

From the thumping drums at the outset of Wonderful Glorious, you can tell that Eels impresario Mark Oliver Everett is back in aggressive rock mode – something we haven’t heard to this degree since 2009′s Hombre Lobo. The new album will be released on Vagrant Records next Tuesday, February 5th, but you can stream the entire thing today in the player below. Eels perfroms at World Cafe Live on March 2 with Nicole Atkins. Tickets and information on the all-ages show can be found here.

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Is Mark Oliver Everett from Eels, or is he Eels? Find out in this deleted scene from This is 40 (playing World Cafe Live on 3/2)

If you’ve seen the new Paul Rudd – Leslie Mann mid-life / mid-marriage meditation This is 40, you know that it does a great job mixing rom-com sentimentality with hysterically crass Judd Apatow-isms and a healthy dose of music nerdery. British pub rocker Graham Parker appears as himself in a role that’s simultaneously triumphant and self-deprecating, and we also get a quick cameo from Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong. Turns out there were even more guest spots on the cutting room floor. Earlier this week, Consequence of Sound hipped us to this scene with Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett. Or, wait, is he just Eels incarnate? He clarifies that for us, but not after a husky and heartrending performance of “What I Have To Offer” from 2010′s Tomorrow Morning LP. Watch the video below; see another outtake with Billie Joe pitching a Norwegian death metal twee-pop hybrid at Consequence of Sound; and catch Eels in concert at World Cafe Live on March 2.

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Listen to “New Alphabet” by Eels (playing World Cafe Live on 3/2)

AOL Spinner is currently streaming a new track from Eels called “New Alphabet.”  The song comes from Mark Oliver Everett’s forthcoming Wonderful, Glorious LP expected out on February 5th through Vagrant Records.  ”New Alphabet” is our second taste of Wonderful, Glorious - we heard “Peach Blossom” a couple weeks ago (listen here).  Tickets and information for Eels’ show at World Cafe Live on March 2nd can be found here.  Listen to “New Alphabet” here.

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The Week So Far: Eight must-read stories on The Key


Lancaster’s The Stray Birds perform “Dream in Blue” for Folk Alley’s backstage sessions [link]

Sellersville progressive hip-hop group I&I record an adventurous Key Studio Session [link]

Get a free song from Florida’s rootsy Roadkill Ghost Choir in My Morning Download [link]

Philly punk four-piece The Menzingers released an acoustic version of “Casey” [link]

Meet rootsy Philly group The Naked Sun in their new Bands in the Backyard video [link]

Philly country-rockers The Lawsuits released a new EP and a new music video [link]

Quirky rockers Eels announced a fall tour with a Philly stop in March, and a new song [link]

Founding Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha played Free at Noon on Black Friday [link]

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Rock out to “Peach Blossom,” a new single from Eels (playing World Cafe Live in March)

The one sure thing about an Eels concert is you never know what you’re going to get. In the early aughts, the band released Oh, What a Beautiful Morning, a live album punctuated by horn players, an orchestral overture and off-kilter banter. When they played Philly as a four-piece band a few years later, frontman Mark Oliver Everett opened the show by DJing in a fatsuit, smoking a pipe. More recently, they played the sanctuary of the First Unitarian Church as a duo, beginning by screening an hour-long BBC documentary about Everett’s quantum physicist father. From lineup changes, to instrumentation changes, it’s all a gamble, so basically, we have no idea what’s in store with the Eels show that was just announced at World Cafe Live on March 2. We can tell you this much: Eels will have a new album in tow – Wonderful, Glorious, out on Vagrant Records on February 5. The album contains a rockin’ song called “Peach Blossom,” which you can listen to below. And tickets are available now through the band’s website here.